Social Work License Requirements in Idaho

Social workers in Idaho are responsible for restoring wellbeing to families, individuals, groups, couples, and organizations. They offer counseling, provide case management, lead interventions, and create programs to support their communities. With Idaho’s population on the rise, the need for qualified social workers is growing.

Social Work Licensure Requirements in Idaho

In order to practice social work in Idaho, social workers must possess licensure at the Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW) level or higher. Education requirements for social work licensure vary depending on the type of social work a person wishes to practice. For example, a professional practicing clinical work, or with a private practice must be a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). Regardless of what area applicants want to practice in, a bachelor’s degree is the first requirement, and it is recommended that curriculum for bachelors studies focus on case management, social welfare, research methods, and cultural diversity. Studies should also include a practicum that allows students to perform hands-on work in the field.

Upon completing a bachelor’s degree, graduates must pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Bachelors Exam in order to receive their license. Upon completion of the exam, they can choose to work in a specialty that only requires licensure as a Bachelor Social Worker, or they can go on to pursue a license at a higher level. In Idaho, there are three levels of social work licensure: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Each level requires specific training, experience, and education in order to obtain licensure.

Licensed Bachelor of Social Work

The minimum qualification for a career in social work in Idaho is a Licensed Bachelor of Social Work (LBSW) from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Bachelor’s programs focusing on social work combine introductory and upper-level classwork with professional experience to advance student knowledge on human behavior, social work policy, professional ethics, and practice methods. Upon completion of the degree, students can submit a licensure application to the Board for approval. If the Board finds that the student is a good candidate, they may then register for the ASWB examination. After passing the exam, a social work license will then be granted.

A Licensed Bachelor of Social Work has numerous career opportunities; however, it prohibits the practice of psychotherapy and often requires supervision. Those with an LBSW can find job opportunities as mental health assistants, group home employees, residential counselors, activity directors, and case management aides.

Licensed Master of Social Work

The state of Idaho requires that social workers who provide clinical services or operate a private practice must obtain a Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW). Individuals are eligible to become an LMSW if they have an MSW from a CSWE accredited program. While most schools offer the same core MSW curriculum, some also offer courses geared toward specific areas of interest. In addition to the required hours of fieldwork, master’s programs also focus on crisis management, intervention, and social work research methods.

After graduates complete their Masters of Social Work degree, they may submit an application for licensure to the Board. Once granted approval, they can register for the ASWB Masters Exam and receive their license upon passing. This licensure opens up more advanced career opportunities, often with more responsibilities and higher salaries. Some popular career paths an LMSW may choose include marriage and family therapist, social service manager, and school social worker.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

For those interested in starting a private practice in Idaho, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) credential is required. Idaho defines a private practice as an “independent practice in which an individual sets up and maintains responsibility for the contractual conditions of payment with clients, agencies or institutions.” This licensure also allows social workers to provide psychodiagnostic assessment and treatment to their patients. To obtain an LCSW, it is required that candidates complete a Master’s of Social Work degree program as well as 3,000 hours of supervised clinical work approved by the Board. The hours must be completed between two and five years and should be broken down into 1,750 hours of direct client contact, 1,250 hours of assessment and diagnosis and 100 hours of face-to-face meetings with a supervisor.

Once these clinic hours are done and submitted to the Board, candidates may take the ASWB Clinical Exam. Once they have passed the exam, they will receive their licensure and can practice clinical and nonclinical social work independently, or may start a private practice focusing on their specialty.

Independent Practitioner Licensure

Different from a private practice of social work, Idaho defines an independent practice as a “practice in which an individual who, wholly or in part, practices social work autonomously with total responsibility for such independent practice.” Practitioners with a Licensed Bachelor of Social Work or a Licensed Master of Social Work are eligible for an Independent Practitioner Licensure as long as they meet the necessary supervised clinical hours.

First, a supervision plan must be formed and approved by the Board. A total of 3,000 supervised hours in social work are required and must be completed between two and five years. Of the 3,000 supervised hours, at least 100 hours must be satisfied by face-to-face time with a board approved supervisor. Upon completion of supervised hours, candidates will receive their Independent Practitioner Licensure that allows them to operate an independent practice in Idaho.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Idaho

While Idaho does not have a social work license reciprocity program, the Board offers licensure endorsement to those who can provide proof of earning a social work license from another state. This allows social workers to practice in Idaho upon the Board’s approval without having to retake exams or take on more supervised hours. The Idaho Board only approves candidates who hold a social work license equal to that which they are seeking to utilize in Idaho, and to those who have not had disciplinary actions against them in the past five years. Those seeking a transfer of their social work licensure to Idaho must send in an application to the Board along with school transcripts, ASWB exam scores, proof of license and any other requested documentation.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Idaho social workers are required to renew their license each year by sending an application to the Board approximately six weeks prior to the license expiration date. In addition to a license renewal fee, social workers are required to complete 20 hours of continuing education classes. Of those 20 hours, one hour must focus on professional ethics, and 10 hours must be from formal experiences such as seminars and workshops. The remaining hours can be completed in the form of self-directed activities. If more than 20 hours of continuing education are performed in one year, they can be carried over to the next year for license renewal.